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Blockchain Adoption | Sberbank CEO Anticipates 1-2 More Years

The head of Russia’s Sberbank has set tongues wagging after he emerged bullish about the future of blockchain adoption. CEO Herman Gref is forecasting industrial scale adoption in as little as one or two years.

Blockchain Adoption

Gref believes the technology is on the cusp of entering the industrial development stage of its evolution. Speaking to journalists this week, he said:

“The hype around the technology [blockchain] is now over, and the technology is entering the stage of industrial development. It needs a year or two to be implemented at the industrial scale.”

The head of Sberbank furthered that the global markets are “not yet ready” for large-scale blockchain adoption due to the “immaturity of the technology.” However, in under two years, the technology will be ready.

Sberbank and Blockchain

Since 2017, Sberbank, along with other major Russian banks and institutions, has been actively trialing blockchain. In December of that year, Sberbank partnered with Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service to store documents and transfer data on the blockchain.

Then, in June 2018, the bank partnered with Alfa Bank to test investment options with cryptocurrency for retail investors.

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Four months later, Sberbank became an advisor to Rosseti to help it trial blockchain solutions. At that time, the bank gave a time frame of three to five years for blockchain adoption.

But now, Gref is saying one-to-two years, indicating successful trials and a fast maturity.

Russia’s Finance and Blockchain

The Russian finance sector seems to be quickly moving towards the technology as another bank, the Russian branch of Raiffeisen Bank, announced its use of blockchain. The bank said it will first implement the technology to log digital mortgages and bank guarantees. However, it has plans to extend its use to other areas in the months to come.

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Public vs Private Blockchain | Ernst & Young’s New Blockchain Prototype

On October 30th, Ernst & Young (EY) announced a world-first for distributed ledgers. Called the Ernst & Young Ops Chain Public Edition, the company created a new blockchain prototype that combines the security of the public ledger model with the privacy of the private ledger model—thus a private blockchain.

It does this by using zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) technology on the public Ethereum blockchain. The result, it claims, is a network that will suit the needs of institutions, especially in the financial sector.

But why the need to combine the pro’s of both networks, what’s missing?

The Benefits and Problems of a Public Blockchain, Compared to Private

Anyone is able to join a public blockchain and read or write transactions. As a result, public blockchains are made up of hundreds of thousands of independent computers known as ‘nodes.’ This massive ecosystem means resilience and security—a huge positive of this blockchain model. Bitcoin and Ethereum are well-known examples of this type of blockchain.

However, every transaction on this type of ledger must be verified by each node. And with hundreds of thousands of nodes making up the network, this has become an issue.

It’s an issue because to reach consensus or verification, nodes perform a proof-of-work (PoW). A PoW is a complex cryptographic equation that is solved by the computer. Therefore, transaction times can be slow and costly and this becomes especially evident during times of high activity and volume.

This is given the term scalability, and it refers to a network’s ability to handle and process large numbers of transactions at any given time. Until scalability improves on public blockchains, many enterprises are reluctant to use them.

Another issue facing public blockchains is privacy. Each transaction provides details such as the amount, date, sender address and receiver address. This is visible to anyone on the network. Though many users love this type of transparency for safety reasons, institutions or anyone dealing in larger sums, lack business privacy.

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The Benefits and Problems of a Private Blockchain, Compared to Public

A user must be invited to a private blockchain. As such, the network is considered closed or exclusive and can be referred to as permissioned blockchains. Naturally enough, this network model has fewer members than a public blockchain and so can be more vulnerable to hacking.

If a blockchain is fully private, then the network rules are usually controlled by one organization or by several pre-selected nodes. A consensus is reached not by every member on the network but by the selected group of nodes.

Because private blockchains are just that, private, they are well-suited to business and enterprise adoptions. Transactions are only visible to the limited numbers of invited participants.

Hyperledger is a good example of this type of blockchain. R3 is another, being a global banking and financial institution blockchain consortium based on their distributed ledger technology product, Corda.

However, as stated, what private blockchains gain in privacy, they lack in security. With far fewer nodes on the network, manipulation and/or hacking is far more plausible.

Conclusion

There are the two basic blockchain models in a nutshell. Can Ernst & Young’s new prototype truly solve the scalability issue of a large distributed ledger whilst also providing maximum security and privacy to its users? Sounds almost too good to be true, right?

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Blockchain Trade Finance Platform | eTrade Connect Officially Launches

A new Hong Kong-based blockchain trade finance platform has just launched this week that was developed by twelve major global banks, Reuters reported this Wednesday. The platform was developed by Canadian-based HSBC, France-based BNP Paribas, Great Britain-based Standard Chartered, and nine other major banks.

Blockchain Trade Finance Platform

The new platform is called eTrade Connect, and on Wednesday, HSBC said it reduced the time it takes to approve trade loan applications. Usually, these loans would take a day and a half to process, but thanks to eTrade, it has been reduced to four hours.

Trade finance transactions were worth over $9 trillion in 2017. Despite the high volume, most of the industry is paper-based and slow. Trade finance transaction processes and procedures haven’t changed in decades, until now.

“Blockchain has transformed a cumbersome, complex process into a simpler but more secure and efficient way of conducting trade,” said Pricerite Chairman Bankee Kwan in a statement issued by HSBC.

The new blockchain trade finance platform is set to revolutionize how trade loan applications are processed around the world. The eTrade platform digitizes the trade documents and automates many trade finance processes. The first successful transactions exchanged and confirmed on the new platform were purchased by Pricerite, a furniture and household goods retailer.

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Blockchain Shift

This last July, We.trade collaborated with Hyperledger Fabric-powered European blockchain to complete its first live operation. In the mix of this live operation was Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Santander, and Rabobank.

In the near future, most cross-border transactions will be held on blockchain technology, but it just depends on how fast banks can adapt to the new switch. Many larger banks around the world have assigned a group of employees within their company to research and test blockchain. The new eTrade Connect Blockchain trade finance platform launch this week confirms it.

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Blockchain and Shipping | Samsung SDS Signs Deal with European Port

Samsung SDS, the blockchain subsidiary of the tech giant Samsung, has just announced its partnership with Europe’s largest port, the Port of Rotterdam. In addition to this agreement, the Major Dutch bank, ABN AMRO, will also be in on the blockchain and shipping deal.

Samsung SDS: Blockchain and Shipping

The Samsung subsidiary released the news via a press release this morning. According to Samsung SDS, its trial will focus on shipping containers from an unnamed factory in Asia to the port of Rotterdam.

The Port of Rotterdam is located in the SouthWest corner of the Netherlands. The port also released its press release of the blockchain and shipping partnership, dated back to the 19th of this month. As per the Port’s release, the blockchain experiment will begin in January 2019, and the results will be released in February.

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Daphne de Kluis, ABN AMRO CEO Commercial Banking, explained:

“We will be integrating all these flows in our pilot: from workflow management combined with track & trace to the digitisation of paper documentation such as waybills and the financing of handled freight or services. The ultimate goal is to reach an open, independent and global platform that operates from the perspective of shippers. This will make the logistics chain more transparent and efficient, and millions of euros can be saved in the long term.”

Details

The infrastructure behind the blockchain and shipping project was developed by BlockLab, a Dutch Company established by the Port of Rotterdam Authority. BlockLab’s work will also include two other decentralized platforms: Samsung’s Nexledger and Corda, an open-sourced blockchain platform designed by R3.

The members of the blockchain trial expect that the pilot will show a reduction of time spent on shipments, as well as help simplify financial transactions. With the current structure, the logistics in shipping from Rotterdam to China involve at least 28 parties.

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Forbes Civil Partnership | This Could Change the Face of Journalism

Multiple journalism outlets have started to incorporate cryptocurrency and blockchain into their business models, which isn’t surprising; we knew this was coming. Back in July, Forbes magazine included crypto players in its ’40 under 40′ list. Last week, Time Magazine put a blockchain startup on its list of 50 innovative businesses. And this week, we have seen the market introduced to a Forbes Civil partnership.

A Forbes Civil Partnership: What Does This Mean?

On Tuesday, October 9th, the co-founder of Civil, a blockchain platform, confirmed that Forbes will be working with the blockchain-based platform to publish content.

According to Matt Coolidge, Civil co-founder, Forbes will integrate the platform’s software into its own CMC, which stands for a content management system. With this, journalists in 2019 will be able to upload their data to the Civil network and the Forbes website at the same time.

There’s more, too. According to Coolidge, the Forbes Civil partnership will also lead Forbes to “experiment with new methods of reader engagement.”

What’s the Point?

Is Forbes getting into blockchain because it wants to be part of the trend? Maybe. Or maybe not. According to Coolidge, using a decentralized platform gives the media the ability to “ensure no third party can remove or alter the content.”

Whatever the reason may be, Forbes is openly supportive of the blockchain industry—and it shows in more ways than just partnering with Civil. Yesterday, in fact, Forbes published an article called ‘Why Now Is The Best Time To Embrace Blockchain Technology.’

The opening paragraph is as follows: “It’s time for your business to start embracing blockchain, the biggest game-changer in technology since the internet.”

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The Takeaway

Do you agree with media outlets partnering with crypto and blockchain companies? Or, more specifically, do you agree with the Forbes Civil partnership? It’s certainly interesting; crypto and journalism are two popular yet controversial topics at the moment.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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